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Hands Down

Follow Me on Twitter     Message Dennis Loo

So now we find out that the inner circle of the Bush White House, dubbed the Principals, met secretly in the White House dozens of times beginning in 2002 to choreograph torture in detail, even mapping out the order and the number of times each of the different brutalities could be used: “slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.”

Imagine the “Principals,” Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, George Tenet and John Ashcroft, along with Bush, similarly meeting in emergency session in 2005 to map out in detail the rescue of New Orleans’ residents trapped in the city after devastating Hurricane Katrina:

“We’ve got to save those marooned on their housetops and we’ve got to dispatch truckloads of food, water and medical supplies to the thousands stranded immediately!”

“These are Americans, I don’t care if they’re Democrats, black and poor. They’re people, god damn it! It’s our job as the leaders of this country!”

“Why wasn’t FEMA on the job?!”

“What is FEMA for, anyway?”

“Get it done!”

Instead of this, of course, the White House was hands off. Bush’s hands were strumming a guitar in San Diego while New Orleans drowned, Cheney hands were gripping his fishing rod in Wyoming, Condi was fondling thousands of dollars worth of shoes at Ferragamo and clapping in a show on Broadway, Michael Brown was fingering with pride his new threads at Nordstrom’s and Chertoff was handing out memos to DHS to crack down on the undocumented coming across the border.

This government, it appears, is hands on when it comes to committing crimes against humanity and hands off when it comes to preventing or mitigating crimes against humanity.

Surely, however, we can count on a vigilant media and righteous Congress to raise their hands in outcry out at these terrible acts and thereby rescue the Republic!

In a Sherlock Holmes story (“Silver Blaze”) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a champion racehorse disappears on the eve of a big race and his trainer goes missing, possibly murdered. Holmes has this exchange at the crime scene with Gregory, the Scotland Yard inspector:

Gregory: "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"

Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.” Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."

Holmes: "That was the curious incident."

Bush lies as easily as he commits a malapropism. Doing his best Bill Clinton impersonation, he admonished: “We do not torture.”

On April 11 Bush finally admits to ABC News that he approved the torture of prisoners.

This President – this “leader of the Free World,” this leader of the country that everyone wants to emulate for its commitment to human rights, freedom, democracy, and liberty - has admitted that he’s been lying all along and has now confessed to torture!

Surely the media are now barking like a pack of guard dogs demanding impeachment.

They have got their hands on this story!

Surely the Congress is up in arms, demanding immediate resignations and if not this, then immediate impeachment and war crimes trials.

Dick Cheney’s hands should be busy gaveling for silence in the cacophony of raised hands and voices in the Senate.

But – but - with the exception of a handful of news outlets, a page A3 mention by the Washington Post, and outrage by Keith Olbermann and Jon Stewart, the rest of the media have deemed it not even worth mentioning.

The president has been caught in yet another bald-faced lie and with blood on his hands, but this is not a news story.

We have a media that was hands on when it came to helping to justify the Bush gang’s attack on Iraq and hands off when it comes to holding them accountable for torture and mass murder.

Now is the spring of our discontent.

The longest presidential campaign in US history continues and the presidents in waiting appeal to us that their hands should be on the ship of state.

What hands are these? John McCain has the hands that made a showing of opposing torture yet were held quiet by his side when Bush signed McCain’s anti-torture legislation but attached a signing statement declaring that the White House was going to continue to torture.

Hillary Clinton has the hands that approved the invasion of Iraq and the hands that have approved every funding bill for the war ever since.

Barack Obama has the hands that have scolded Bush for pursuing “dumb" policies such as torture and illegal invasions, hands that voted for funding the war, but silent hands when it came to opposing these policies as criminal.

Both Clinton and Obama’s hands have said that if they take the oath of office of the presidency that they too will use signing statements to negate legislative intent.

All of these senatorial hands have been silent when it came to taking a stand in Congress and opposing - if necessary, by filibuster - the abrogation of habeas corpus and the horrid passage of the Military Commissions Act that legalized torture.

All of these senatorial hands have been held up in a stop sign to calls for impeachment.

All of these senatorial hands have been busy pointing fingers at Iran and gesturing menacingly towards Iran and Pakistan, with McCain’s hands pantomiming the Beach Boys, “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran,” and Clinton and Obama holding their hands up to say that they too would be willing to bomb, bomb, bomb Iran and Pakistan.

Hands down these people are guilty.

Hands down this system is guilty of crimes against humanity.

Hands down we will see even greater horrors to follow if we the people remain hands off. What hands do the rest of us have?  

Hands on, or hands off?

* * *

From Shakespeare's MacBeth, Act II, Scene II:

Whence is that knocking? 

How is't with me, when every noise appalls me? 
What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood 

Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather 
The multitudinous seas incarnadine, 

Making the green one red. 

(First published at my blog, http://dennisloo.blogspot.com) 

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Cal Poly Pomona Sociology Professor. Author of "Globalization and the Demolition of Society," co-editor/author (with Peter Phillips) of "Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney." National Steering Committee Member of the World Can't (more...)
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